We recently featured Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig (Stonemaier/Bézier) on Board's Eye View. Panorama, from Sparkworks, uses very similar mechanics but instead of adding rooms to castles you are building a panoramic picture of the landscape.
Alex Wynnter's game is played over two rounds - a Dusk and a Dawn phase. In each, the 3-6 players are dealt a hand of cards from which they choose one to play to contribute to a panoramic tableau to their right or left. They then pass their cards to their neighbour and repeat. As with Between Two Castles... and its predecessor Between Two Cities (Stonemaier), players are all contributing to the tableaus on each of their sides, so Panorama is a semi-cooperative game; you and your neighbour to the left both have a vested interest in maximising the score for the panorama you both share, and likewise with the player to your right. Cards all score for their relationship with other cards in the tableau; for example, being adjacent to a tree or not being adjacent to an animal. In addition, there will be four Award tiles (randomly drawn from the 10 in the box). These will give extra points for the panoramas that meet their specific requirements (for example, most or least foxes).
The only limitation on card placement is that the height of the background landscape has to line up with the card you are placing. That could mean that you may not have a legal play open to you in either tableau. If that occurs, you can play any card face down where it becomes a 'No Hunting' sign. There are even circumstances where that will contribute to a panorama's score more than a face up card.
The Dusk and Dawn phases both play similarly but the cards differ. When you've played both phases, players will each have four panoramas for which they'll score. The winner is the player who has the highest total for all four of their panoramas, including Award tiles.
The standout feature of Panorama is the beautiful artwork by Dann May. When you finish a game, you really do end up with some superb panoramic landscapes! Panorama is simpler and so easier to learn and play than either of the Stonemaier Between Two... games, so it makes for a very accessible filler-length family game. There's a bit of iconography to learn but it's mostly obvious and intuitive. Because play is simultaneous, the game scales well for higher player counts - indeed, we found our five and six player games were in fact quicker than our three-player games because we started each phase with smaller hand sizes and because if you play allowing discussion between cooperative pairs then playing with four or more means you can all discuss first with the player on your left and then with the player on your right, so there's no downtime. If you do allow for discussion tho', we recommend only doing this after players have all selected the card they have drafted.
The rules include a two-player and a solitaire variant, both of which involve an optimisation challenge with players drafting from a selection of face-up cards to end up with a 10-card panorama. These are both very playable but, for us, Panorama is at its best with four or more players.
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